I came across with a short passage posted on a Sina microblog the other day, which said that “If the majority of a nationality can not tell right from wrong, think independently, behave with courtesy, and lack the spirit to learn more, seek justice and fulfill their dreams, it could hardly base itself firmly in the world, let alone contend with competitive foreign powers. Such nations and peoples are doomed to miserable downfall.”
The microblogger was a magazine chief editor and deemed to be one of China’s cultural elite.
I couldn’t help forwarding his passage with the additional comment, “Could you name a nationality or a nation that can be regarded as your ideal type?”
Probably there is a noble example in the writer’s mind when he criticized China’s backwardness. In the past 10 decades, a portion of Chinese intellectuals have made a habit of condemning their motherland through contrasting China and the West. The former was believedto be the hell and the latter the paradise.
It might be the negative legacy of China’s New Culture Movement in the early 20th century. A body of elites denounced China’s traditional culture and its national character lavishly but extraordinarily admired Western culture. They tended to spur China to borrow as much experience as possible from the West.
This thinking absolutely denied the history, society, culture and the national entity of China. It holds that Chinese history was awash with killings, Chinese society is an evil vat that could turn good to bad, Chinese culture is savage and the nation has no right to exist.
Some “cultural talents” in the 1980s, having suffered in the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), broadened their ancestor’s worship of Western culture around 1919 to the Western nations as a whole, even to their violence and hegemony. Some extremists regretted that Britain and Japan failed to totally colonize China. They even suggested that China needed to be colonized for 300 years.
The ingrained inferiority and self-denying mindset, compelled them to belittle themselves. Creative ability, wisdom and respect were severely denied and hurt.
So far, we are regretful to see that the morbid thought not only develops its followers but are also frequently cited by some so-called “speech leaders.”
It is acknowledged that China has experienced a whirlwind of ups and downs in the past hundred years. But we are still scrambling for the ideal politics, economy, culture and society.
We cannot deny that China has undergone enormous changes owing to a century of effort by the Chinese people.
The economy boomed and fortunes accumulated at an unexpected fast speed, the majority of citizens benefited greatly from the advancement, the awareness of democracy is thriving and the popularization of the Internet and blogs offer citizens broader freedom of speech.
Besides, the emerging of China transformed the whole global pattern. The nation evolved from a weak and colonized nation to a BRICS member, powerful enough to compete with Western giants.
It is a pity some born in the 1980s cannot acknowledge these achievements. Neither the national independence won under Mao Zedong’s watch nor the economic boom during the period of Deng Xiaoping attracted their attention. They are stubbornly prone to sticking with the biased ideology.
They are addicted to the desperate mood caused by the May 4th Movement in 1919 and the resentment against society in the 1980s.
They frequently criticize society. Their biased approach, reproaching the society and persevering with their own theory, is too sentimental. They are not real intellectuals.
The educated should re-comprehend the nation’s history, culture, national spirit and character as the whole world is applauding the nation’s expansion.
Each nation has its problems. China is no exception. Intellectuals need to perceive and eliminate social ills, not become mere rebels, which does nobody any good in the long run.
The author is a researcher at the Chinese National Academy of Arts.firstname.lastname@example.org